OBERHOF, Germany (AP)Johannes Ludwig of Germany clinched his first World Cup men’s overall season championship Saturday, becoming the fourth different slider to win the crown in the last four seasons.
Ludwig won the next-to-last race of the season to lead a German sweep of the medals, with Max Langenhan second and Felix Loch third.
Austria took the next four spots, led by Nico Gleirscher in fourth and Wolfgang Kindl in fifth. But that wasn’t enough to keep Kindl in the title chase, and he wound up falling 146 points behind Ludwig with one race – and a maximum of 100 points – remaining.
Ludwig’s season title means this is the first time there have been four different World Cup champions in the four seasons between Olympic races. Semen Pavlichenko of Russia won in 2018-19, Roman Repilov of Russia won in 2019-20 and Loch won the title last season.
”The importance of the overall World Cup is very, very high,” Ludwig said. ”I never had the title in my career.”
Tucker West led the Americans with a 19th-place finish. Chris Mazdzer was 21st and Jonny Gustafson was 24th. All three have already qualified for next month’s Beijing Games.
Toni Eggert and Sascha Benecken of Germany prevailed in the next-to-last World Cup doubles race of the season Saturday, making a big move in the overall standings.
Eggert and Benecken had the best time in both runs, topping the German sled of Tobias Wendl and Tobias Arlt. Emanuel Rieder and Simon Kainzwaldner were third for Italy, matching their best finish of the World Cup season.
World Cup leaders Andris Sics and Juris Sics of Latvia finished fifth. Eggert and Benecken got 100 standings points for the win, and the Sics brothers received 55 for their finish. That 45-point difference on Saturday allowed Eggert and Benecken to get within 37 points of the Latvians in the standings.
The Sics brothers have 828 points, Eggert and Benecken have 791. If Eggert and Benecken win the World Cup finale at St. Moritz next weekend, the Sics brothers would have to finish at least third to hang on to the season points championship.
They are the only sleds that could still win the title.
The U.S. didn’t have a sled in the doubles race Saturday. Olympic qualifiers Zack DiGregorio and Sean Hollander are training in Park City, Utah, to prepare for the Beijing Games.
The weekend in Oberhof concludes Sunday with a women’s race and a team relay. U.S. Olympians Summer Britcher and Emily Sweeney are not racing Sunday, leaving Ashley Farquharson as the lone American in the women’s race. And since there’s no U.S. doubles team in Oberhof, the Americans won’t be in the team relay.
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